“Traditional Rhythms Are Back”: The Resurgence Of Folk Music In The UK:

Did you know that the American actor, Richard Gere, once starred in a film called “Shall We Dance”?  It wasn’t one of his most famous roles and didn’t win him an “Oscar”. Made in 2004, it was about a “bored, overworked Estate Lawyer” in Chicago who – despite being “healthy, financially well-off, happily married with two ‘normal’ teenage children”-  felt stuck in a rut. He wanted to do something different, so enrolled for lessons at a ballroom dancing school. One of the teachers was called “Paulina”(played by Jennifer Lopez). Under her tuition, “John Clarke”, a shy stalwart of the Anglo-Saxon upper-middle classes with apparently two left feet  eventually became adept at performing the waltz, quickstep and a range of latin routines.

Even more than the Americans, the English have a reputation for lacking any sense of rhythm and having to be almost dragged protesting onto the dance floor at a wedding reception or anniversary party.  It is an image which – as “The Herald” in Scotland has concluded  – is no longer really applicable, either to England or the rest of the UK. Yes, there are still some people for whom “fun” means reading the Sunday newspapers, walking the dog and washing the family car. For many others, however, that’simply not enough. Even in the era of social media, apps and online video games, they want to get out and about, participate in real (not virtual) society. This mood has been both reflected in and captured by the huge success of BBC TV’s “Strictly Come Dancing”- which (says The Herald) has inspired “an apparent stampede to get back to the dance floor” and “augurs a return to old-fashioned values”. The contention that the show can claim all the credit for “making ballroom and latin dancing cool again” does not, though, take into account (for example) the already established popularity of salsa classes around the country or the continuing revival of folk dancing throughout the UK.

In an article for the “Dance UK”website, Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of the “English Folk Dance and Song Society”(EFDSS), has noted that “over the past few years there has been a greater and more positive press coverage on all aspects of folk and traditional cultures”. This in turn has led to “a widening interest in all things folk” and a notable increase in enrolments for the more than 20 classes per month the EFDSS offers at Cecil Sharp House (CSH) in Camden North London. At this venue they teach not just “Morris” (“the best-known form of English folk dance”), but also “Lancashire Clog, Appalachian Clog (originating from North Carolina in the USA), Irish Set Dancing, Cajun, Cossack and Balkan” to more than 12,000 participants a year. Their weekly Morris class in particular has seen “an unforseen influx of people in their ‘20’s and ‘30’s”. The “Guardian” has pointed out that it’s not that Morris dancing and folk are suddenly “ back in fashion” – but that they “simply never went away”. It  also quotes the acknowledgement by the music journalist and Morris enthusiast, Jo Kendall, that this dance form can appear “ a bit odd” and is widely associated in the public mind with “accountants and shopkeepers hopping about in funny hats”, wearing bell pads on their shins and waving around sticks, swords or (more often) handkerchiefs. According to Katy Spicer, there are, moreover, “hundreds of Irish and Scottish Ceilidhs( in which  four couples face each other in a square or rectangular formation, then exchange partners) regularly taking place throughout England. The Scottish Ceilidhs have designations such as “The Military Two Step, The St. Bernard Waltz and The Gay Gordons” and are “frequently identified with famous historical battles and events”.

Cecil Sharp House (which takes its name from the  “renowned 20th century musician and folk-music collector ) describes itself in its brochure as “England’s National Folk Centre”. However, its  September –December 2014 programme also includes a concert by the “Kelly Eye Band” from Iowa, USA (22nd November) and “Caucasion Dance Workshops” (15th/16th November) featuring “selected dances from countries and regions such as Georgia, Ossetia and Dagestan”. From 25th -26th October, CSH hosted the annual “Dance Around The World” Festival (DATW), now in its 14th year. Visitors to the event were encouraged not just to watch but “to try traditional & international dance forms for themselves”. They were able to choose from (among many others) “styles as varied as Flamenco, Indian, Caribbean, South East European, Tango, and Maori ”. As the Festival’s technical director, Casper Cronk, emphasized, they receive very little in the way of outside funding or grants – so have to rely mainly on the income from the sale of tickets (£14 each full day, £9 evening only, £22 the whole weekend), supplemented by contributions from some of the organizers themselves.

The American choreographer and dancer, Agnes de Mille, is said to have remarked that “The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music”. This was certainly in evidence at DATW. Included in the 40 plus performers and bands (almost all of them based in London or elsewhere in the UK) were the Ukranian ensemble “Svitanok”, the “Tanec” Bulgarian Dance Group, the French West Indian “Zil’oKA” (Saturday),  the “Ngati Ranana”London Maori Club, the Slovakian “Morena”, and the Northern IndIan “Pagrav” Dance Company (Sunday). Simultaneously, downstairs at CSH, there were workshops teaching “Januka” (Jamaican Quadrilles), “Philhellenes” (Greece), “Doina” (South East Europe), “Zywiec” (Poland), “Londona Dejo” (Latvia), “Hilal” (Egypt), “Urvashi” (India) as well as the more familiar Salsa and Tango tempos. There was a Latin-American evening on the Saturday and an “Anglo-International Barn Dance” to end the Festival on the Sunday. Casper Cronk estimated that DATW  attracted at least 1,200 visitors during the course of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRADITIONAL RHYTHMS ARE BACK: THE RESURGENCE OF FOLK MUSIC IN THE UK:

Did you know that the American actor, Richard Gere, once starred in a film called “Shall We Dance?” Probably not. It wasn’t one of his most famous roles and didn’t win him an “Oscar”. Made in 2004, it was about a “bored, overworked Estate Lawyer” in Chicago who – despite being “healthy, financially well-off, happily married with two ‘normal’ teenage children”-  felt stuck in a rut. He wanted to do something different, so enrolled for lessons at a ballroom dancing school. One of the teachers was called “Paulina”(played by Jennifer Lopez). Under her tuition, “John Clarke”, a shy stalwart of the Anglo-Saxon upper-middle classes with apparently two left feet  eventually became adept at performing the waltz, quickstep and a range of latin routines.

Even more than the Americans, the English have a reputation for lacking any sense of rhythm and having to be almost dragged protesting onto the dance floor at a wedding reception or anniversary party.  It is an image which – as “The Herald” in Scotland has concluded  – is no longer really applicable, either to England or the rest of the UK. Yes, there are still some people for whom “fun” means reading the Sunday newspapers, walking the dog and washing the family car. For many others, however, that’simply not enough. Even in the era of social media, apps and online video games, they want to get out and about, participate in real (not virtual) society. This mood has been both reflected in and captured by the huge success of BBC TV’s “Strictly Come Dancing”- which (says The Herald) has inspired “an apparent stampede to get back to the dance floor” and “augurs a return to old-fashioned values”. The contention that the show can claim all the credit for “making ballroom and latin dancing cool again” does not, though, take into account (for example) the already established popularity of salsa classes around the country or the continuing revival of folk dancing throughout the UK.

In an article for the “Dance UK”website, Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of the “English Folk Dance and Song Society”(EFDSS), has noted that “over the past few years there has been a greater and more positive press coverage on all aspects of folk and traditional cultures”. This in turn has led to “a widening interest in all things folk” and a notable increase in enrolments for the more than 20 classes per month the EFDSS offers at Cecil Sharp House (CSH) in Camden North London. At this venue they teach not just “Morris” (“the best-known form of English folk dance”), but also “Lancashire Clog, Appalachian Clog (originating from North Carolina in the USA), Irish Set Dancing, Cajun, Cossack and Balkan” to more than 12,000 participants a year. Their weekly Morris class in particular has seen “an unforseen influx of people in their ‘20’s and ‘30’s”. The “Guardian” has pointed out that it’s not that Morris dancing and folk are suddenly “ back in fashion” – but that they “simply never went away”. It  also quotes the acknowledgement by the music journalist and Morris enthusiast, Jo Kendall, that this dance form can appear “ a bit odd” and is widely associated in the public mind with “accountants and shopkeepers hopping about in funny hats”, wearing bell pads on their shins and waving around sticks, swords or (more often) handkerchiefs. According to Katy Spicer, there are, moreover, “hundreds of Irish and Scottish Ceilidhs( in which  four couples face each other in a square or rectangular formation, then exchange partners) regularly taking place throughout England. The Scottish Ceilidhs have designations such as “The Military Two Step, The St. Bernard Waltz and The Gay Gordons” and are “frequently identified with famous historical battles and events”.

Cecil Sharp House (which takes its name from a  “renowned 20th century musician and folk-music collector ) describes itself in its brochure as “England’s national folk centre”. However, its  September –December 2014 programme also includes a concert by the “Kelly Eye Band” from Iowa, USA (22nd November) and “Caucasion Dance Workshops” (15th/16th November) featuring “selected dances from countries and regions such as Georgia, Ossetia and Dagestan”. From 25th -26th October, CSH

 

hosted the annual “Dance Around The World” Festival (DATW), now in its 14th year. Visitors to the event were encouraged not just to watch but “to try traditional & international dance forms for themselves”. They were able to choose from (among many others) “styles as varied as Flamenco, Indian, Caribbean, South East European, Tango, and Maori ”. As the Festival’s technical director, Casper Cronk, emphasised, they receive very little in the way of outside funding or grants – so have to rely mainly on the income from the sale of tickets (£14 each full day, £9 evening only, £22 the whole weekend), supplemented by contributions from some of the organisers themselves. The American choreographer and dancer, Agnes de Mille, is said to have remarked that “The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music”. This was certainly in evidence at DATW. Included in the 40 plus performers and bands (almost all of them based in London or elsewhere in the UK) were the Ukranian ensemble “Svitanok”, the “Tanec” Bulgarian Dance Group, the French West Indian “Zil’oKA” (Saturday),  the “Ngati Ranana”London Maori Club, the Slovakian “Morena”, and the Northern IndIan “Pagrav” Dance Company (Sunday). Simultaneously, downstairs at CSH, there were workshops teaching “Januka” (Jamaican Quadrilles), “Philhellenes” (Greece), “Doina” (South East Europe), “Zywiec” (Poland), “Londona Dejo” (Latvia), “Hilal” (Egypt), “Urvashi” (India) as well as the more familiar Salsa and Tango tempos. There was a Latin-American evening on the Saturday and an “Anglo-International Barn Dance” to end the Festival on the Sunday. Casper Cronk estimated that DATW  attracted at least 1,200 visitors during the course of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Music & Dance | Posted on November 9th, 2014 by Colin D Gordon

Comments are closed.

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Copyright © 2018 Colin D Gordon. All rights reserved.